Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin stopped by a farm in Prince George County Thursday night with his ticket mates Winsome Sears and Jason Miyares to talk to a barn full of supporters. Youngkin talked to the crowd of supporters about the core issues of his campaign as well as his disappointment in what has taken place during the General Assembly’s special session.
He first introduced himself to the crowd and described his mindset around the decision to run for governor last year. “Last summer I had this moment come over me, literally like a freight train. I said you know what, there is something else we are supposed to be doing,” Youngkin said to the crowd of roughly 100 supporters. “I remember looking at my wife in July on a Friday night — I said ‘I’m going to quit my job tomorrow and I’m going to go run for governor.’”
Now, over a year later from that conversation with his wife, Youngkin is traveling the Commonwealth every day and talking to potential voters on the campaign trail. Additionally, he has an influence on what the Virginia Republicans are doing while convened at the Capitol.
Youngkin talked in Prince George about the agenda he announced ahead of the General Assembly’s special session to allocate the $4.3 billion in federal stimulus money. Youngkin called for investments to expand broadband access, investments in law enforcement with retention bonuses for officers, investments to provide school choice options for parents, and fully funding the deficit of the Virginia Unemployment Insurance program. Democrats have actually prioritized most of those same ideas this week during the special session — with the exception of school choice, which they say would divert money away from public schools.
Youngkin and Virginia Republicans wanted to provide more money for law enforcement officers than the Democrats, but it appears the final legislation will still include large bonuses for most of Virginia’s law enforcement personnel. “The path to a successful bright future is built on safe communities, we are going to stand up for law enforcement,” Youngkin said Thursday.
Democratic leadership limited discussion on the budget bill and notified legislators prior to the special session that they would not be accepting amendments in committee. The House stuck to that promise and quickly passed the governor’s legislation without including any Republican amendments. The Democrats in the Senate allowed a few Republican amendments to be included before passing the legislation. The House rejected the Senate’s bill on Thursday afternoon. A conference committee will have to be formed so legislators from both chambers can sort out the differences. The House and Senate have to approve the same exact legislation before it can go to Governor Northam for his signature.
House Finance Chair Del. Luke Torian gave a passionate speech on the floor earlier this week to push back against those claims of excluding Republicans. He said he has never shut them out of any conversations and that they could have reached out to him at any time.
Youngkin expressed displeasure with the entire special session process and conveyed that to the crowd in Prince George. “Of course single-party rule in Richmond doesn’t even listen, [they] shut out any discussion, in fact, put plastic barriers up between everybody,” he said to the crowd. The plastic barriers that Youngkin mentioned were the clear plexiglass dividers placed around every legislator’s desk to try and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
As far as the popular issues for Republicans, Youngkin vowed to protect qualified immunity for police officers, ban critical race theory in schools, and said he would oppose repealing the right-to-work laws in Virginia.
In a different talking point on the trail, he vowed to invest in helping Virginia’s veterans reenter civilian life and stay in the Commonwealth. “Our veterans are the backbone of our communities,” he told the crowd before explaining that he would use resources to invest money in systems to keep veterans in Virginia by fully funding and staffing veteran resource officers.
In all, Youngkin seemed to recognize the moment in front of him and the national pressure that seems to be placed on every Virginia gubernatorial race. “There are only two state elections this year,” he told the crowd. “The eyes are on Virginia. Why? Because something amazing is happening. All of a sudden a state that is thought to be blue, there is a neck and neck race going on for governor.”
Virginia hasn’t elected a Republican to statewide office since 2009 and Terry McAuliffe is the Democrat looking to keep that streak alive. McAuliffe served as governor from 2014-2018 and had to wait to seek a second term this cycle because the law prevents Virginia governor’s from serving two consecutive terms.
The limited polling on this race shows McAuliffe with a slight lead.
Early voting for the Nov. 2 general election begins Sept. 17.
Listen to the full audio of Youngkin, Sears, Miyares, and State Senator Frank Ruff below:
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